The former vice president and the Democrats were US$187 million behind President Trump and the Republicans this spring. Now they are entering the final stretch of the campaign with a US$141 million advantage.
Joe Biden's campaign said Sunday that it entered September with US$466 million ($699 million) in the bank together with the Democratic Party, providing Biden a vast financial advantage of about US$141 million ($211 million) over President Donald Trump heading into the intense final stretch of the campaign.
The money edge is a complete reversal from this spring, when Biden emerged as the Democratic nominee and was US$187 million ($280 million) behind Trump, who began raising money for his reelection shortly after he was inaugurated in 2017. But the combination of slower spending by Biden's campaign in the spring, his record-setting fundraising over the summer — especially after he named Senator Kamala Harris of California as his running mate — and heavy early spending by Trump has erased the president's once-formidable financial lead.
Trump and his joint operations with the Republican National Committee entered September with US$325 million ($487 million), according to Trump's communications director, Tim Murtaugh.
The Trump campaign pulled back on its television spending in August to conserve money, as some campaign insiders fretted about a cash crunch in the closing stretch of the campaign. But other officials argued that the Trump campaign would continue to raise heavily from small donors and that the cutbacks over the summer were shortsighted.
In the last four weeks of August, the Biden campaign spent US$65.5 million ($98.2 million) on television advertising, compared with US$18.7 million ($28 million) by the Trump campaign, according to data from Advertising Analytics.
Even after the reduction in TV ad spending, Federal Election Commission filings made public late Sunday showed Trump's campaign committee ended August having raised US$61.7 million ($92.5 million) and spent US$61.2 million ($91.7 million), along with adding about US$900,000 ($1.3 million) in debt.
Money in the candidate's own committees, as opposed to the political party's account, is the most valuable of funds because election rules require those accounts to pay for certain types of spending, such as television ads.
Biden's campaign committee reported raising US$212 million ($318 million) and spending US$130.3 million ($195.4 million) — banking more than US$80 million ($120 million) last month.
Democratic donations surged further over the weekend. Following the death of former Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which opened a vacancy that could tilt the ideological bearing of the Supreme Court further to the right, contributors shattered records on ActBlue, the biggest online processing platform for the left.
Donors gave more than US$100 million ($150 million) over the weekend after her passing.
Before the latest presidential disclosures were filed, some Republicans were questioning how a Trump campaign that has raised US$1.3 billion ($1.9 billion) since the beginning of 2019 with the Republican National Committee has already spent nearly US$1 billion ($1.4 billion) of those funds before the start of voting. Trump officials have repeatedly pointed to their bigger investment in ground operations (such as door-to-door canvassing) that Democrats have forgone during the pandemic as prudent spending that will provide a benefit as balloting begins.
"Our early investment in states is going to move the needle in a way that Joe Biden's campaign just can't do, even if they tried starting now," Bill Stepien, Trump's campaign manager, told reporters this month.
An extraordinary influx of cash in August accounts for Biden's newfound financial lead, after he and the Republicans entered the month nearly neck and neck. The Biden campaign and his joint operations with the Democratic National Committee raised a record US$364.5 million ($546.6 million) last month — more than any previous candidate has raised in a single month — while Trump brought in US$210 million ($314 million), their campaigns said.
"It's hard to even get your head around the size and historic nature of this," Jennifer O'Malley Dillon, Biden's campaign manager, said in a call with reporters this month. The cash-on-hand figure released by the campaign shows it spent about US$192 million ($287 million), barely over half of what it brought in last month.
"We're going to have the resources, not just to go wide on our map but also to go deep within those states," Dillon said of the Electoral College battlegrounds.
Billionaires and very wealthy supporters continue to exert their influence on the race through super PACs, which have no limits on giving. New filings showed Kelcy Warren, an oil pipeline billionaire, gave US$10 million ($15 million) to a pro-Trump super PAC, America First Action, along with US$2 million ($3 million) from Diane Hendricks, a Wisconsin billionaire, and US$1 million ($1.5 million) from three others.
On the Democratic side, Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City who ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic presidential primary, recently announced he would spend US$100 million ($150 million) supporting Biden in Florida, by far the largest and most expensive electoral prize. James Murdoch, the son of the Fox media mogul Rupert Murdoch, donated US$300,000 ($450,000) in August to a pro-Biden super PAC, Unite the Country.
Monthly financial filings for both the Trump and Biden camps made on Sunday offered only a partial window into the state of the money race, as some of their joint committees with the parties will not have to file until next month.
On Sunday, the RNC reported a second payment of US$666,666.67 to Reuters News & Media in August labelled "legal proceedings — IP resolution." An identically sized and labelled payment was made in June. Reuters and the RNC previously declined to comment on the first such payment.
Written by: Shane Goldmacher
Photographs by: Christopher Lee
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